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Beyond the numbers: Some injuries add up more than others

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The big number was a powerful way for Adam to kick off this morning’s Pinch Hitter post. To think of the Yankees losing 1,753 days because of injuries is stunning, and it’s especially potent in the context of the rest of baseball. Here’s the spreadsheet [3]that shows how that 1,753 total came to be. It shows which players missed how many days, and below is the breakdown of each individual Yankees player (as you can probably tell, missing the full season meant missing 183 days).

Michael Pineda — 183 days
Pedro Feliciano — 183 days
Cesar Cabral — 183 days
Brad Meyers — 183 days
Austin Romine — 183 days (technically on rehab when he joined Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
David Aardsma — 175 days
Brett Gardner — 160 days
Mariano Rivera — 152 days
Joba Chamberlain — 119 days
Andy Pettitte — 83 days
Alex Rodriguez — 40 days
CC Sabathia — 37 days (two different stints)
Dave Robertson — 33 days
Ivan Nova — 17 days
Dellin Betances — 14 days (called up and put on the 60-day to open a 40-man spot)
Eric Chavez — 8 days
TOTAL — 1,753 days

[4]What do those details tell us?

That the big, lasting injuries make the big picture look bad, but it’s often the smaller injuries that do the real damage. Consider the fact that the guy on the right isn’t even mentioned in the list above.

Clearly Pineda, Rivera and Gardner were significant losses — especially in the case of Pineda, those lasting injuries can have an impact well beyond days spent on the disabled list — but 724 days of DL time went to Feliciano, Cabral, Meyers and Aardsma; two Rule 5 picks, a guy who was signed with the intention of going on the DL, and a lost cause who’d been hurt for more than a year. Another 183 days was lost to Romine, who might not have played a big league role anyway and technically came back before a full 183 days had passed.

Added together, Romine, Feliciano, Cabral, Meyers and Aardsma account for more than half of the Yankees total DL time last season. But if you’re looking for season-defining injuries, those five hardly fit in the picture.

The devastating injuries belonged to Pineda and Rivera, and Gardner’s was the one that just wouldn’t go away. Before the middle of May, the Yankees had lost a starting pitcher, their iconic closer and their regular left fielder for more or less the entire season. They’d lost them because of an underlying shoulder issue that went undetected, because of a fluke accident during batting practice, and because of a seemingly innocent sliding catch that caused an elbow injury which simply refused to get better.

The stunning injuries were the fluke comebacker that broke Pettitte’s ankle, the misplaced changeup that broke Rodriguez’s hand, and the pair of injuries that temporarily shutdown Sabathia (an ace known for his durability as much as anything). That’s a total of 160 days on the DL, but the impact was beyond most of those players who missed the entire season.

The injuries that we’ve been talking about this winter aren’t even on the list. Derek Jeter’s ankle, Rodriguez’s left hip and Mark Teixeira’s nagging health problems never caused them to miss a single day on the regular-season disabled list, but those injuries were as significant as anything listed above and carry more lasting concerns than anything outside of Pineda’s shoulder. Also largely missing from the numbers is Sabathia’s elbow, which caused him to be shutdown briefly but which he ultimately pitched through before having offseason surgery.

Adam’s right, durability matters a great deal, and it could be a significant issue for this aging Yankees team. The optimist says players will come back and health won’t be as much of an issue. The pessimist says the likelyhood of injuries only goes up as a team ages. The details say that it’s not always the total days missed that make the biggest difference, it’s the nature of the injuries — the who, the what and the when — that really adds up.

Associated Press photo